UK Gambling Venues to Remain Closed for At Least Two More Weeks

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Just like many other parts of the world, the United Kingdom is still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic despite the progress that has been made with regards to its containment. The number of casualties has been slowly decreasing and plans for the possible reopening of various parts of the economy were already underway. One of the most notable ones was the reopening of gambling venues that was scheduled for August 1. This did not come to pass.

A statement released by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday revealed that, as part of the measures to ensure the virus is fully contained, the country’s government will be postponing some of the plans to reopen. This will remain so for at least two weeks as revealed by the Prime Minister’s statement.

“Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks, and remaining close contact services must remain closed. Indoor performances will not resume.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the steps being taken by the government are a “heavy blow to many people” but he has promised that all the relevant data will be taken into account as the country plans the next reopening phase. Already things are shaping up as expected and it will not be long before a new plan is announced.

Concerns About the Future of the Gambling Industry

Now, while two weeks may seem like a relatively short time, the Betting and Gaming Council has expressed some concern regarding the impact that the postponement will have on the gambling industry. According to Michael Dugher, the BCG chief executive officer, the decision is “highly illogical” especially because of the financial implications.

He stated that over £5 million ($6.5 million) will be lost for each week that the gambling venues and entertainment destinations remain closed. This is pretty big especially considering that other fleeting changes have also had an impact on the industry.

Massive Job Losses

Moreover, about 6,000 jobs would be lost due to the extension of the closure of the gaming venues in the country. These, he believes, are totally avoidable costs especially considering the fact that casinos reportedly posed much less risk than other venues that have since reopened.

“We made the all necessary preparations for safe reopening and we were given the green light by Public Health England on the basis of the significant investment made by operators, and having been told by the Government themselves that casinos posed a ‘negligible’ risk compared with the tens of thousands of other places that have been reopened.”

Michael Dugher, BCG CEO.

In the United Kingdom, the gambling industry employs 14,000 people in casinos and an additional 4,000 in the supply chain. The industry is also a major contributor to state tax coffers and therefore its closure would also impact that particular revenue stream for the government. Online gaming may still be a great choice but it can not totally make up for the lack of retail options.

Even so, it seems like the containment of the pandemic is the main agenda at the moment, and perhaps the losses are a risk the country’s government is willing to take.